Other Views on Mary: Judaism, Islam...


The discovery of other religious traditions or schools of thought can enrich Marian doctrine and piety. For Christians, this encounter is part of the ecumenical dialogue between brothers. Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans all have rich traditions that deserve to be known. Judaism helps us understand better the religious and cultural background in which the Virgin Mary grew up. The dialogue with Islam reveals to us another approach as well as the Muslims’ reverence towards the Virgin Mary. In an even broader perspective, we may note that the followers of Eastern wisdom as well as non-believers can also be touched by the maternal figure of Mary. Pope John Paul II furthermore affirmed that the strength of Mary’s "universal motherhood" under the influence of the Holy Spirit is exercised through this veneration of her.

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The Virgin Mary in non-Catholic Christian traditions

The Second Vatican Council underlines the importance of restoring the unity of all Christians, willed by God, after its division overshadowed the second millennium. Therefore, it encourages an ecumenical dialogue, so that Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans can talk to and get to know each other. They can thereby try to overcome their differences in a common effort of conversion and to come together to listen to the Lord who alone gives unity, according to His prayer to the Father: "That they may be one as we are one" (Jn 17,21-22). In the final paragraph of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium it is said that:

“It gives great joy and comfort to this holy and general Synod that even among the separated brethren there are some who give due honor to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, especially among the Orientals, who with devout mind and fervent impulse give honor to the Mother of God, ever virgin.” [1]

Mary in the Jewish tradition:

Even though the devotion to the Virgin Mary belongs to the Christian religion, we should not forget that she is an eminent member of the Jewish People, with whom we are related. Mary is the Daughter of Zion, she belongs to the children of Israel, she transmits her Jewishness to Jesus, and gives him His body. The point of divergence between Jews and Christians regarding the Virgin Mary concerns, of course, her divine motherhood, since the Jews do not consider Jesus to be God. The Christian perspective on Mary as a Jewish woman and mother is also a means of furthering Judeo-Christian dialogue.

Mary in the Muslim tradition:

For Muslims, the Virgin Mary is a unique figure: their holy book (Koran) grants her a privileged place, describes her childhood, the Annunciation, etc. She is recognized as the mother of Jesus the prophet. However, her presence in the Koran does not prevent numerous points of divergence with the Catholic faith since for Muslims, Jesus is not the Son of God nor is Mary, a fortiori, the Mother of God.

The Virgin Mary in other non-monotheistic religions

 Saint Pope Paul VI underlined the following in the declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, Nostra aetate:[2]

“In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.”

“One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men, until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light”.[3]

Mary, Mother of men, new Eve, new “Mother of all living”

Mary is a mother to all human beings, whether they know it or not. While Christ is the New Adam at the origin of a new humanity, Mary supports him in the birth of this new humanity through her faith and through sufferings. Thus, she becomes in her turn the new Eve, who at the foot of the Cross receives the mission of being a Mother for all men. During the night from May 29th to May 30th, 1930, the Lord Jesus revealed to Sister Lucy in Pontevedra the reasons for the devotion of the first five Saturdays of the month requested by Heaven in reparation for sin. The number five is due to the five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The third type of offenses he speaks about is "blasphemies against her divine maternity while at the same time refusing to recognize her as the Mother of all mankind ". Mary should be recognized as the Mother of men, as the New Eve. That is why we should pray to her for the unity and peace of all her children.

Mary in other traditions, and for non-believers

To the followers of Eastern wisdom, Mary can seem an admirable and sublime mother figure, to whom the faithful come to pray; finally, the Virgin Mary also touches many other people who can be described as “men of good will”.

The Virgin Mary and philosophy

Human reason allows to examine all of reality. Thus, there is no doubt that philosophy can help us enter into the depths of Mary’s mystery. Philosophy being originally the search for wisdom, which philosophers seek through the reasoned practice of the virtues, is naturally confronted with the figure of the Virgin Mary, a paragon of Christian wisdom, since wisdom and freedom coincide in her. A thematic study (of her face, body, love, gift, etc.) allows us to understand better how philosophy and theology can coexist, reciprocally enrichening each other.


[1] Lumen Gentium, § 69 available on-line

[2] See the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions ‘Nostra aetate’ , 1965 ;

[3] See the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions ‘Nostra aetate’ , 1965 ; available on-line 

[4] See also the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions ‘Nostra aetate’ , 1965 ; 

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To know more

About the different Churches and Christian communities in the Marian Encyclopedia

About the call to unity and ecumenism in the Marian Encyclopedia

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Organisation of the section

This section is organized in the mode of a comparative study with the aim of enriching Marian doctrine and devotion and to promote interreligious dialogue around the person of the Virgin Mary, as recommended by the Second Vatican Council[4]. It starts with a study of the place and role of the Virgin Mary in non-Catholic Christian religions (Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican traditions), in other words in ecumenical dialogue; it is followed by what Judaism can tell us about Mary, then the presentation of Mary in Islam, and the role of the Virgin Mary for the unity of peoples, as Mother of all men; the study ends with a presentation of the Church’s position towards Eastern wisdom (Buddhism, Hinduism etc.) and other non-Christian religions, in order to finish by some philosophical themes that can be related to the wisdom of the Virgin Mary.